Will Cox finally get wireless right?

Perhaps the third time will be a charm for Cox Communications. Earlier this week the cable company revealed some more details of its pending wireless deployment. The firm said it is going to build its own 3G network--using 1xEVDO Rev A technology--and use the wireless spectrum it has acquired by bidding in the 700 MHz spectrum auction and the AWS spectrum auction (in the AWS spectrum auction it bid as part of the SpectrumCo joint venture).

Cox, of course, is not stranger to wireless. It first deployed wireless back in the 1990s in some markets in California and Las Vegas but then sold its holdings to Sprint PCS. The cable company tried again to be a wireless player in 2005 when it became part of the Pivot joint venture along with Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Advance/NewHouse Communications and Sprint. Those companies teamed up to provide a bundled quad-play offering that was supposed to roll out across the country. Although Pivot launched in a few markets, it floundered from lack of interest and uptake and was finally dismantled earlier this year.

Cox now says it will build a wireless network in its cable service area--including cities such as New Orleans, Omaha and Las Vegas--serving about 23 million potential customers. It will use the Sprint Nextel network for roaming outside those areas. Although initially it will deploy EVDO Rev. A, Cox said it would begin testing LTE in 2009.

Cox is being cagey about what types of services and pricing plans it will unveil to differentiate itself from its competitors. I certainly hope it plans to do more than just offer a bundled quad-play offering.  I don't think that alone will draw enough consumers to justify the network buildout.

I wonder if we will finally see the mobile DVR player that I've been hearing about since 2005 when the Pivot players talked about it but never launched it. Supposedly the mobile DVR that Pivot was going to offer would provide the consumer with the ability to remotely program their home digital video recorder from their phone and even use their phone to get some (or all) of their cable video content delivered to their handset. 

Cox has said that it wants to control all aspects of this latest wireless offering, so it makes sense that cable company would integrate its cable TV content with the mobile phone.  If Cox is able to do that, it might have the differentiated offering that it needs to succeed.  - Sue